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Doctrinal Matters: Bible Interpretation

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The Bible Explains Itself

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It often has been said, “The Bible is its own best commentary.” When we read something that we do not understand in one section of the Bible, frequently other passages in the Scriptures will “interpret” the “unclear” sections for us. Someone questioning the identity of the “seed” of Abraham who would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 22:18; cf. 26:4) can read Galatians 3:16 and learn that the “seed” mentioned in Genesis is Christ. If a person wanted to know what the water baptism Jesus and the apostles commanded involved, he could study Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12, and Acts 8:38, and come to the correct conclusion that New Testament water baptism is a burial in water, and not the mere sprinkling of water on a person. Instead of approaching the Scriptures with the mindset of, “What do I think about…,” or “What do you think about…,” we first need to ask ourselves, “What does the Bible say about itself?” If there is one section of the Scriptures that we do not understand fully, we always should examine other passages in the Bible that deal with the same subject first. Such is the case when we interpret the account of Creation recorded in Genesis 1.

Some who read Genesis 1-2 have suggested, for example, that the Hebrew words translated “create” (bara) and “make” (asah) always mean entirely different things. They believe that bara means “to create,” while asah means “to re-create” or “to make over.” Thus, we are told, “the heavens and earth” were created in the beginning (vss. 1-2; supposedly a time that could have been billions of years ago), and then there was a six-day “make over” (vss. 3-31). The problem with this theory (commonly known as the Gap Theory) is that the “explanatory notes” God has given us throughout the Old Testament concerning the events recorded in Genesis 1 reveal that the words “create” (bara) and “make/made” (asah) are used interchangeably in reference to the creation of the Universe and everything in it.

Consider Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made [asah] heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.” Gap theorists contend that this verse speaks only of God’s “re-forming” from something already in existence. Yet notice that the verse specifically speaks of the heaven and the earth—the very same things mentioned in Genesis 1:1. Notice also the psalmist’s commentary on Genesis 1:

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created (Psalm 148:1-5, emp. added).

The psalmist indicated that the Sun, Moon, and stars (among other things) were created (bara). However, Genesis 1:16 states: “God made (asah) two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made (asah) the stars also.” When we “couple” Genesis 1:16 with Psalm 148:1-5, the only logical conclusion that we can draw is that “to create” and “to make” are used to refer to the same event—the making of heavenly bodies on the fourth day of creation.

Finally, consider what Nehemiah wrote concerning God’s creation:

You alone are the Lord; You have made [asah] heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You (9:6, emp. added).

When Nehemiah wrote about some of the same events recorded in Psalm 148:1-5 and Genesis 1:1 [in which the word “created” (bara) was used], he employed the word “made” (asah).

What does all of this prove, you may ask? It proves that we can know God created everything in six days—including the heavens and Earth mentioned in Genesis 1:1. The reason that some insist on the Hebrew words bara and asah having two different meanings when referring to God’s creative acts is not because it is the most logical reading of the text (especially in light of other verses in the Bible), but because they are searching to find some way to fit billions of years of alleged Earth history into the Bible in order to accept the evolution-based geologic timetable.




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